I joined this forum just so I could share this post. I read through this thread and it disturbed me greatly.
This furor is a lesson on how quickly a character assassination can happen on the Internet. Most divers who posted on this 17-page diatribe about the killing of an octopus in Seattle did so before they actually knew the facts.
Don't really want to weigh in about the morality of hunting or the childish bravado of hunters. But I do want to say that it worries and distresses me when so many people can wage an attack on someone so quickly, based only on hearsay.
The young diver was accused of illegally killing a nesting, defenseless female octopus, taking her away from thousands of eggs, causing her death and the death of a generation of octopi. It should be noted that the prevailing understanding now, after some actual news reporting, is that the diver had a license, the octopus was a legal kill and that it was not a nesting mother.
It's the former journalist in me that likes to set the record straight. This young man is getting death threats and says he has been told by his employer to not return to work after his leave of absence. He is also being banned from a variety of dive shops and has been called every name in the book. He says his ambition to be a rescue diver is now thwarted, as some dive schools are denying him admission. Don't know if that last is true or not.
In a radio interview (http://mynorthwest.com/?nid=577&a=9948224&p&n
) he gave defending himself he claims everything he did was legal, and that he took the octopus both as a subject for an art drawing class requiring something from nature and as food. He says he has eaten some already, shared some with family and friends and has 50 lbs more in his freezer. (Everyone who has posted in this thread ought to listen to this radio interview.)
Meanwhile his Facebook and MySpace pages have been harvested to be used as fodder for all kinds of accusatory assumptions and insinuations. He has become a pariah, all before the facts were fully known.
And Pacific Northwesterners, as they are wont to do, have been wagging their fingers in self-righteous umbrage, name-calling and slandering before actually hearing from the hunter/fisherman to understand his side of the story.
Apparently, as I understand it, the divers who started the Web fire of personal destruction considered the fish in the cove where the young man was fishing to be their "protected pets." The man was apparently unaware of that or the sensitivity of the area for local divers. Wildlife authorities, on the other hand, say the man had every right to be fishing in those waters for whatever catch he desired, regardless of what anyone else thought of his actions. In fact, a game warden says she inspected his catch and found nothing illegal.
For his part, the young man said that the two divers who initially approached him, challenging what he was doing with a live octopus, were rude and aggressive. He did what many would do, and gave the rudeness and aggression back.
The two challengers didn't like the young hunter's attitude and decided, with no evidence other than his defensive, sarcastic responses, that he had killed a nesting mother. They took to the Web to launch a concerted campaign to identify the young man, invade his online presence, destroy his reputation and damage his relationship in the dive community.
Unfortunately, what they posted was simply not factual and caused slanderous damage. They bear responsibility for whatever destruction they brought to this young man's life. Hopefully they will accept that responsibility. The young man says he won't go back to that cove to fish again, respecting the wishes of the local divers, but will continue hunting for octopus, as is his legal right.
Even though the facts are now pretty much known, the demonizing of this young man continues. He says he hunts and butchers animals to eat. He has posted videos of those activities. But, comments on various news organization threads now describe his livestock slaughterings as animal torture.
I've seen a couple of his videos. They show an immature man butchering his food and playing around with his meat. You know, like hunters posing gleefully with their prized kills.
Remember, an awful lot of people, especially young people, now post just about everything they do online. This young man's video postings are being distorted.
Whether or not we ought to be killing animals for sport, food or any other reason is another kettle of fish altogether. (But, I do like my calamari, cow and pig.)
In any event, this should be a lesson to all of us online to do a little research, get the facts, give a story a little time to develop before we start sharing unfounded accusations and insinuations. And one should never start charging people with supposed heinous acts without ever giving that person an opportunity to explain their actions.
This first came to my attention through a Facebook posting where the poster said his intent was to embarrass this young diver. The original posting on this thread was a blatant threat against the young man and the dive businesses he frequented. Without a doubt it was an invitation for others to invade the young man's privacy.
When one begins to wrongly accuse someone, without having properly vetted the facts, it can quickly escalate out of control and cause real personal damage that might not ever be undone. These accusations need to stop here and now. In my opinion, this thread has been an embarrassment for all involved.
No one has a monopoly on "right" and "wrong." What we all have are laws. None, as far as I can ascertain at this time without further investigation, have been broken here. If you want to change the existing laws about octopi hunting, have at it. But, don't demonize this young man for doing what is accepted under the law.
For now, quite a few apologies are in order. And those who have caused damage in anyone's life have a responsibility to undo that damage.
Thank you all for allowing me to post on a forum to which I don't belong. I felt this thread was not about diving, but about fairness and the destruction caused by facile, false accusation. For the record, I'm scared to death to go under the water.
Hope all is well with you and yours.
Cheers for now.